Maine Days 1 & 2: The Big Garden Maze

Now that we're back, I can't remember when the heck we left.  

Our first night we stayed in a hotel, and I can't remember where exactly we were, but I think we were in Virginia somewhere, because Geoff and I got to going on about Salem, and that started us on the Salem witch trials, and two hours later, we'd read a lot about it on the shared tablet.  I'd never read head-to-head with him like that, not since Neurobiology class when I "forgot" my book.  But he's a much faster reader, so I didn't do that again.  Though with tablets now, he can just keep scrolling and I can read the top.  Maybe that's what we'll do when we're old and sharing one bed and one tablet and one bedtime.

There was a phone in our hotel bathroom, which Grace found very fancy.  We've been reading a lot of Fancy Nancy lately.  If you have little girls who love fancy stuff and you're not yet acquainted with Fancy Nancy, you are missing out.  

I made this first photograph of the girls to show that sometimes there is an age-span-caused distance between them.  Sometimes they are very close, and other times, one will grow ahead and the other stay behind.  Sometimes that makes them closer, sometimes farther apart.  I never had a sister, nor a younger sibling, so it's all new to me to watch this unfold.  I had a miscarriage between the two girls and wondered if they'd be too far apart to enjoy each other's company as friends, but (especially as the baby grows into a toddler and walks and talks), it is increasingly obvious they adore each other and playing together.  Is it the mother hen dynamic?  Well, yes and no.  It's both, though mostly friends.

The next day we stopped at "The King's Crown" (AKA Burger King, AKA Fancy Nancy's choice of dining establishment, according to Grace's interpretation.)  Then we continued to Luray Caverns, where we took on the perfectly lovely Garden Maze.  You may think, outdoors?  Lost in a maze, carrying a hot toddler, in July, in the sun?  Sunscreen! Sweat! Tears of frustration! Nope! It was none of that.  It was wonderful. They had free-to-borrow umbrellas to keep the sun off.  They had perfect misters at shoulder height every few feet continuously through the whole maze.  The bushes are pretty tall, so it was actually quite shady, and there are lots of charming little garden art pieces to help you remember if you've been to that corner before or not (but not so many that it wasn't a challenge nonetheless).  After a bit of happy wandering, you will find your way out eventually without getting too flummoxed.  The garden maze is also sectioned off, so there are only a couple doors to get in and out of each big section.  And each section, for your older kids, has a stamp station where you stamp a mystery word in to make a short sentence completed at the end (4 or 5 words).  It took us about 1 1/2 hours and we moved at an average page, somewhere between the pace of a running 7-year-old with a mission and a stamp card, and a toddler who wanted to pet every little ceramic frog and spin every pinwheel.  I would recommend this for families, but don't bring your stroller in.  You don't need it, and the pathway isn't wheel-friendly.  Small babies, I'd just carry.  There is a small gift shop with excellent selection, and bathrooms are up the hill just a bit at the main visitor's center.  We also had ice cream there and visited their toy museum and toy shop before leaving.

Early on in the maze, Gracy, in an uncharacteristic moment, was mean to her doll and threw her.  Cannon, in an empathetic panic, instantly snatched the doll up and looked like he was going to cry.  He held her tight the rest of the day and took excellent care of her.  It made him very happy to have her along.  Gracy got over her fit and was fine in about 5 minutes.  Such is life.

As the miles rolled on and the Pennsylvania countryside painted itself before us, we stepped out of the van for a quick stretch and to pick flowers on the hillside in the sunset.  It was Eloise's first time ever picking flowers for Geoff.  How is it that all this time, all this summer, we'd been home, surrounded by carefully maintained flowers, and with us right there and yet, we'd never intentionally picked a bouquet?  Sometimes you need to get out of the garden to enjoy the flowers, I suppose.